The Evanston Plan Commission split down the middle last night on whether to approve a middle-income townhouse development on the site of the former Hines lumber yard at 1613 Church St.

All commissioners present said they favored the project’s goal of creating more housing for school teachers, city employees and other middle-income residents who feel priced out of the Evanston market.

But several said the plan to build 42 townhomes on the 1.5 acre site was too dense and the all-brick design was too plain.

Developers of the Church Street Village proposal offered to re-work their plans to try to satisfy some of the objections, and the commission scheduled another hearing on the proposal for Wednesday, Feb. 8.

But developer Walter Kihm of Cyrus Homes said density is needed to be able to build the 1,800 to 2,200 square foot, two- and three-bedroom units and sell them in the $360,000 to $420,000 price range.

Commissioner Douglas Doetsch said the project needs more setback from Church Street and more green space. He suggested reducing the number of units and having some at a higher price point.

The wider price range, Mr. Doetsch said, “would make for a healthier, more organic neighborhood, rather than a highly homogeneous one where all the buildings are the same and targeted to essentially the same group of people.”

But Commissioner Lawrence Widmayer said, “We have a great need in this community for townhouses at this price point. More setback would be great, but not at the cost of losing the price point on this project. We can put $500,000 townhouses a lot of places in this town.”

The commission was also scheduled to hear a proposal last night from Smithfield Properties for the Kendall College property, but the developer requested a postponement until the Feb. 15 meeting to work on revisions to its plans.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *